Posts filed under ‘KF10 (Kiva Fellows 10th Class)’

A Cry for Benin

Benin is a country not often in the news.  When I was a Kiva Fellow placed there, I’d come to appreciate this.  It meant we didn’t have the political instability of Togo, the violence of Nigeria, or the food shortages of Niger.  While Benin still had many flaws, it was stable compared to its neighbors.  This gave it hope for the future – hope for growth and international investment. (more…)

21 August 2010 at 01:00 3 comments

A Kiva Fellow’s Scrap Book

 
By Leah Gage, KF 10 in Ukraine & KF11 in Togo
 

Today is my last day as a Kiva Fellow. Kiva Fellows Class number 10 (or KF10) took me to Zaporozhye, Ukraine where I worked with Kiva’s field partner HOPE Ukraine; KF11 brought me here to Lomé, Togo, where I work with two different field partners, Microfund Togo and Women and Associations for Gain both Economic and Social, or WAGES. I can’t think of two countries more different, and I have loved and been challenged by both experiences equally. (more…)

20 August 2010 at 05:25 26 comments

Happy Mothers Day

With the political turmoil that stopped everything in the city a couple months ago behind us Mothers Day in Thailand brings a sense of calm over the Kingdom; except on the roadways, it’s hell there. With massive amounts of tourists flocking out of Bangkok for the extended holiday due to Her Majesty’s birthday the roadways around Bangkok and up-country are clogged with weekend warriors desperate to escape the hustle of the city for fresh air and no-vacancy hotel stays. The streets are empty around Bangkok it seems that everyone is leaving Bangkok, everyone except for the good people at Step Ahead microfinance.
The women (and the man) that work at Step Ahead don’t get to appreciate the Mother’s Day holiday the way most do in Bangkok (by leaving). They are hard at work braving the rainy season weather to keep the Klong Toei community full of happy borrowers.
Step Ahead has been working in the Klong Toei slums since 2002 and does quite a bit to help out the community. Along with a daycare program, free breast cancer screenings, and adult business classes Step Ahead also provides the Klong Toei community with smiles, and lovingly helpful dispositions.
Step Ahead first got my attention as a possible partner with Kiva. Out of all the major MFI’s based in Bangkok, Step Ahead was the only one to fulfill Kiva’s partner requirements.
Unfortunately, due to Thai legislation concerning loans acquired from outside the country it would be quite costly (for both the borrowers and for Kiva) to partner with Step Ahead at the moment.
At the moment Thai law requires a 15% withholding tax to be placed on any loan originating outside the country. There is a way around this however, a Thai bank account is needed for this to be accomplished and for this a Thai address is needed. Easily done, but would only lessen the withholding tax to 3%, which still can make the interest on a loan expensive. To complicate the issue even more, to crack down on the problem of loan sharking (a big problem throughout the country) Thai law also states there must be 15% interest rate cap on all loans in the country. Thai laws concerning microfinance are evolving and will possibly one day soon become more definable and open. Until that day comes Step Ahead (http://www.stepaheadmed.org/) will be working hard to keep the micro-entrepreneurs of the Klong Toei community happy.

Happy Mother’s Day Mom

11 August 2010 at 19:55 1 comment

Double Bottom Lines

Even for MFIs that are committed to ensuring their social bottom line, doing so remains a significant challenge.

Continue Reading 11 August 2010 at 15:17

aMAIZEing

By Peter Marchant, KF12 Zambia

Microfinance is a powerful development tool, but by no means the only one. In southern Zambia, Empowerment Microfinance Institution combines the power of microfinance with a crop warehousing program to help small-scale farmers weather seasonal price fluctuations.

Continue Reading 11 August 2010 at 04:08 1 comment

Farewell from Sri Lanka

By Cheney Wells, KF 11

Finishing up my Kiva fellowship in Sri Lanka was a bittersweet experience. My relationship with both Kiva, and with their field partner, the ever-efficient BRAC, has been a positive one. I believe I made tangible contributions to the relationship between the two organizations, and through those efforts, learned a great deal. I enhanced some of the hard technical skills that I had expected to improve on the job (financial reports, Excel), and also had the chance to learn valuable soft-skills that I had not anticipated needing when I set off for Sri Lanka to work as a Kiva fellow.

One soft skill I had the opportunity to practice was the process of negotiation. When I arrived to Sri Lanka, I did not anticipate having to try to facilitate an agreement with the Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL) in order to get approval for a continuation of an agreement signed last year between Kiva, BRAC Sri Lanka, and the CBSL. My final month of work in Sri Lanka, however, ended up being dedicated almost entirely to trying to get a renewal of that approval. Through several meetings with the CBSL and with other parties, I did my best to try to reach a new agreement between the three parties. It is unclear if those efforts will bear positive results, but I am proud of the work of Kiva and BRAC Sri Lanka to get renewed Central Bank approval.

Thus the future of BRAC Sri Lanka remains uncertain. There are a great number of borrowers here who already received Kiva loans, and they are now in the process of using those loans for their businesses, and making repayments on the loans. There are not, however, any new borrowers being added to Kiva’s Sri Lanka portfolio, due to the aforementioned problems with the Central Bank here in Sri Lanka.

It is of course difficult to measure the exact impact Kiva has had here in Sri Lanka. Certain tools do exist in the field of development to try to monitor and evaluate the impact of development programs, and Kiva has in fact begun to do so in many countries with CERISE, to continue to improve its measure of its microfinance activities. Despite not having all the tools and resources needed to do a thorough report on the overall impact of Kiva’s work in Sri Lanka, I can at least say that I do not see the situation with Kiva here as a failure. Although many resources were invested here both on the part of Kiva, and by BRAC Sri Lanka to bring Kiva loans to borrowers here, there are now nearly 200 borrowers who received loans at a special interest rate of 12% from BRAC Sri Lanka, and at no interest from Kiva. As had been stipulated by the Central Bank here, all of those borrowers are below Sri Lanka’s poverty line (families below household incomes of 7,500 LKR, or approximately $2 per day), so these loans went to some of the neediest people in Sri Lanka. And if things work out, then there will still be a future for Kiva in Sri Lanka! Let’s keep our fingers crossed.

6 August 2010 at 15:00 3 comments

Vote for Kiva Field Partner Juhudi Kilimo as an Ashoka Changemaker!

By Rachel Brooks, KF9/10, Kenya

Kiva Field Partner Juhudi Kilimo has been nominated by Changemakers and Artemisia as a model of how to build the field of social business. Juhudi qualified as one of 448 entries from 78 countries as an outstanding demonstration of innovation, social impact, and sustainability.

Vote now (http://www.changemakers.com/socialbusiness/finalists#tab-section) until August 11 to help them win $5000. The winner will be announced on August 18th.

Continue Reading 2 August 2010 at 12:59

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